Sunday, August 22, 2010

Projects For Pain Relief

My nightly battle against contracting muscles has forced me to search out creative ways to keep my joints and nerves from suffering the resulting pain (I simply can't win any battle while sleeping). The first thing I did was buy a couple of those wrist supports for carpel tunnel.

While that provided me with some relief in my wrist it left my elbows and hands free to move, contract and hurt all they wanted. I looked in the store for something to brace my hands but only found thumb stabilizers. So for several months I had been tossing around ideas in my head and looking around the apartments looking for items that may prevent my hands from making their nightly death-grip fists. My first idea was to fasten something soft to the palm of my hand. I decided to puncture one of those stress balls (or in this case a light bulb shaped stress ball), run a piece of elastic through it, and wrap it in a piece of cloth to protect my hand from the inevitable rubbing elastic.
It didn't really work out like I had hoped, maybe if I could fashion the fabric into a sort of glove this would work better. Since I don't have a sewing machine I decided to rethink my approach, which is when I remembered how my husband had hurt a finger earlier in the year and we had taped a Popsicle stick to it as a stabilizer. Why couldn't I tape a Popsicle stick to all my fingers - or actually have my husband tape them?

This actually worked a lot better, but was rather time consuming as we prepared for bed and then again when I woke up. Because of the time issue I am not motivated to do this every night, opting to simply do this when the pain is really bad. As we move into fall I'm thinking I can buy a cheap pair of gloves and fasten the sticks to the outside of the glove. Once the weather cools down I won't mind wearing a pair of stabilized gloves to bed.

The next project was for my elbow. My neurologist had suggested that I stay away from the store bought elbow stabilizers, saying they are to constrictive and my muscles could atrophy with their use. She actually suggested this next homemade fix. I cut a rectangle out of one of those cheap foam mattress pad (they used to be egg crate, but now just come in patterns). The foam then wraps around my elbow, overlapping on the inside of the arm. Then I placed a paint roller over the overlapped area to prevent my arm from doing much bending. Then I had my husband tie it down with shoe strings.

I wouldn't want to have both elbows wrapped just in case I needed something in the middle of the night. It's not pretty, and completely impossible to put together on my own - BUT it actually did a good job of stabilizing my elbow. This is another thing I only wear when the pain is really bad, mostly because of the heat. I'm still trying to find a way to fasten it on my own. I tried making Velcro straps but it didn't really work, but I might try another version of that idea later in the fall.
We do what we can, right? I would love to hear about your projects. What have you made to better cope with your pain?


  1. Have you tried Bicycle gloves (which are very stretcy elastic as a base? People who do data entry use them to help with hand cramps.

    I hand sewed a roll about 2x the size of a roll of quarters about a decade ago when I had trouble with contractures from a tendon injury on my right hand. I also sewed some beads on it so when I gripped it too tight at night I would wake up. It was stretchy Knit and filled with firmly packed fiberfill. It did help! Good luck!

  2. Wow, that is a lot of experimentation! Surprised though that your MD didn't send you to a physical therapist to help you with these problems and night time solutions...

    I think you might have been onto something with the stress ball. I wonder if holding a tennis ball in your hand and wrapping an ace bandage over both your hand and the ball would work. You could cut the toe area off a sock and make a hole for your thumb in the side and wear it between your hand and the tennis ball as well.

    I have a custom splint a physical therapist made for me that works like this. Shoot me an email and I can send you some pictures.

  3. WinnyNinny, Bike gloves - I never would have thought of that. Thanks for the great suggestions.

    Selena, I'm surprised too. Thankfully one of the Mayo docs had the good sense to write a prescription for PT. I like your idea of the ace bandage and the tennis ball - or the sock. Great ideas! I'll email you for pics. Thanks!

  4. I have had a lot of success with IMAK Arthritis gloves ( and in fact wore one last night when my right hand suddenly decided to spaz out. I have more than once caught myself wishing they made such a thing for elbows. Not sure they would be firm enough for your needs though...

  5. I love this idea! I checked them out online and sounds like it would be a great thing for me to pick up. Thanks!